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  • Panelist from the Internet2 Technology Exchange offers mentoring advice
  • Mentoring is a partnership between mentor and mentee
  • Mentoring shares confidence

Part two of Helen Patton's overview of a panel discussion she was party to at the 2016 Internet2 Technology Exchange in Miami. Read part one here. 

One of the six themes that came out of our panel discussion on issues related to gender and diversity during the 2016 Internet2 Technology Exchange was the commitment to mentorship.

As female leaders in information technology, my co-panelists and I feel the effort to champion for greater diversity and equality has to start with us.

We understand how important it is to serve as role models, not only to women who have an interest in pursuing a career in technology, but also to women who are just starting their careers, or struggling to stay in the technology field, or thinking about growing their career.

We envision the commitment to mentorship as a support system that enhances a positive experience of growth and development for an individual’s career.

Research suggests that the most beneficial mentoring is based on mutual learning, active engagement, and striving to push the leadership capabilities of mentees.

Mentor Responsibilities

  • Set realistic expectations and keep an open mind.
  • Be honest and let your mentee know you are committed to their success. 
  • Mentorship requires a time commitment; set a time limit as part of the process. 

While we hope to see mentorship as a prevalent practice in all IT departments, we are also aware that it requires the organization to make a concerted effort and commitment toward more inclusion and diversity, and to have a plan of action to make that effort successful.

However, this should not stop us from pursuing meaningful mentorships on the individual level.

Starting a new job can be nerve-racking, especially when you’re a minority in your organization.

Reach out to your new colleague, welcome them to your organization, engage them in conversation, and make them feel welcome.

If you are in a leadership or management role, you may also want to consider matching a mentee with a seasoned staff member who is willing to devote the time to grow and develop the mentorship.

As a mentor, there is an expectation that you will follow through on this commitment and hold yourself accountable for your efforts, even if the outcome is not what you expected.

Mentee Responsibilities

  • Understand that mentorship provides an opportunity to grow professionally.
  • Be open to constructive criticism and willing to work towards achievable goals.
  • Commit time and effort in order for the relationship to work, be willing and able to learn new skills and behaviors to grow professionally.

But the responsibility of mentorship does not fall solely on the mentor. A mentee should be just as enthusiastic and committed to the relationship.

Mentorship is a two-way relationship that requires commitment from both the mentor and mentee. This relationship is based on the fundamental understanding that both of you can make a difference in each other’s professional lives.

By empowering women through mentorship, we share the confidence needed to attain and achieve goals.

Want to read more of our women in STEM stories? Here's a handy guide to some of our coverage.

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